MEET OUR FAMILIES
Meet The Reyes-Medina Family - House #78
Hello, we are the Reyes-Medina family. The last few years have been a roller coaster of events that has transformed our family. I am Marilu Medina, (Mom) and was born and raised in Southern Oregon and have lived in Talent pretty much my entire life, until the Almeda fire changed all of that. My husband, (Moi) was a long time resident of Ashland before meeting me. We married and lived in Talent. I have two boys in high school, (Erik and David). One son in heaven, (Lukas) and two, two year old twin girls, (Natalia and Sophia).
I would say that the roller coaster ride started around 2018. We were expecting a new addition to our family and everyone was excited to meet him. Unfortunately Lukas was stillborn. We were devastated and heartbroken. Not too long after we found out that we were expecting twin girls. The pregnancy was one filled with anxiety, and excitement. In February of 2020 we were blessed to welcome our daughters into our loving family. Our boys were doing great in school, our family landscaping business was slowly progressing, and it seemed like we were on a good path.
Then, in March 2020, the pandemic happened. We had no choice but to wait it out in our home as we watched stores, schools, and work shut down. We thought that things would get better soon and go back to normal. Unfortunately this never happened…..
September 8th, 2020 is when the Almeda fire came and ripped through our town. It was our sons first day back to school. We lost our home of 13 years and our landscaping business that was our only source of income, along with what few precious mementos we had of our youngest son. There was no time to grieve or cry, we were in survival mode. Each day we would wake up trying to find resources and new information all while taking care of our four kids and dealing with the loss of our business.
We bounced around from different family members’ homes, to a hotel, to a FEMA trailer but eventually we had to move in with my Mom in her home where we used the living room and a spare bedroom as a space for our family. Despite all of this we hadn’t lost hope, we couldn’t, not after all that we had been through. Our kids needed a stable place to live, to feel safe, and to thrive in.
As the months passed we saw our former neighbors, Almeda survivors, leave their hometowns to move out of state. There was a housing shortage and inflation had gone into overdrive creating new challenges for families to face. Lack of homes and the rising cost of rent was pushing our dream of stable housing back even further. Although we had already started to rebuild our business money was still very tight. We started to think that maybe moving out of state wasn’t a bad idea, but I didn’t want to leave the community that I was raised in, the community that my children were raised in, and have to start over from ground zero.
Around this time Habitat for humanity announced another round of Almeda survivor applications for housing. We applied the first time but were not selected. We hesitated a bit at first but decided to reapply. After all, if you don’t try then nothing changes but if you do try then there could be a chance. We texted friends, family, and our church family to pray for us as we waited to see what the outcome would be.
Much like the first time we applied we received an interview but then things started to change. We got asked to come in for another interview! Soon we were told that we got accepted into the Habitat for Humanity program. Our hearts were overflowing with joy and gratitude. We were finally going to have a permanent home to settle down in. When we found out the home was in
Talent we were moved to tears. Habitat for Humanity choosing our family means that we can return to our hometown, to our community, to the place that I was raised in and that my children have been raised in. We have gone through so much but we have also been blessed with many things. Our hearts are now filled with gratitude, joy, and hope for the future.
Meet The Garcia Family - House #77
Ever since I lost my home due to the Almeda fire in Sept 2020, everything has been very difficult. I miss having my own home – a place where my child can play outside or have a garden space to grow beautiful flowers and vegetables. As a single mother, I worked so hard to purchase our home. It was not everyone’s idea of the perfect place but it was ours and we worked hard for it. Our home was an older manufactured home in a park but we worked hard to fix it up – we painted the walls beautiful colors, I decorated the rooms and in an instant, it was gone. Everything was gone.
Then after came the realization that finding something else that we could afford was going to be next to impossible. Between my limited budget and the very high prices, even renting seemed to be something I could not afford. Then someone told me about Habitat. They said Habitat for Humanity had a program that was helping fire survivors who were low-income build homes… they were helping families like ours build homes we could AFFORD! I applied for the program and hoped for the best. I prayed that this would be the answer we were waiting for.
On August 26th Habitat knocked on our door with a sign and balloons to share that we were one of the lucky families to join the Habitat for Humanity Program. I am so happy for this opportunity and thankful for each and every person who is helping to make this dream come true. I am looking forward to having my new home and a place for my family. God bless you all!
Meet The Alexander Family - House #68
If a year ago you would have told me how my life would change, I would have never believed you. Family is just me and my 15 year old daughter, Angel. I lost my son to car accident a couple of years ago. My daughter and I had been comfortably living in our small trailer in Phoenix for many years. Our trailer was in a very small privately owned park but it was such an incredible community – we were all like family. On September 8th, 2020 we evacuated expecting to be back home before dark. Our park family met at Walmart and set up base camp but once there we quickly learned that things were taking a turn for the worse. By dark we were not back home… by dark home was GONE.
To explain the loss – I am not sure I can. We spent the next days just numb, following a wave of confusing and incorrect information. Go here for this and there for that. Oh this changed and now here. It was so challenging but I had my daughter, my fur babies and we were safe. We knew our first priority was somewhere to live and we have been fortunate enough to have family to stay with but living with family is not like being in your own home – it too has its challenges.
As you try to chase and follow information or help, you begin to wonder what is next? Everything seems so temporary or unavailable or expensive – it was hard to have hope. I had tried everything. I applied with FEMA. As a Veteran of the US Navy, they helped me apply for my VA loan. With hope we started that process only to realize that my income wouldn’t qualify us for anything priced in the Rogue Valley. Same thing with the disaster SBA loans, based on my income it wouldn’t afford me anything here. I wasn’t sure where else to turn!
On April 11, 2021 I received an email from Habitat with information on the 2021 Housing Program. As I read, my heart started to beat a little faster the Homes were specifically for the Alameda fire victims.
Now as a single mother I can’t tell you what this allowed me to dream of – it allowed me to have a little hope. Always nervous that something could go wrong or Habitat could say no but it gave me something to hold onto. Over the couple of months each step of the process has allowed me to believe that one day Angel and I might be able to have a home of our own to start our own memories once again.
The devastation that the Alameda fire left behind was not just our home but also in our spirit. Being chosen as recipient for a Habitat home has brought our spirit back. I believed all through the process that this could be a new beginning for us. Now as we are attending classes and volunteering with the other recipients, we have begun a new lease on life.
Susie purchased her home in July 2022.
Meet The Garcia Family - House #74
We are a family of five. My oldest daughter Lizbeth is 17, my son Angel is 14 and my youngest daughter is Kelly and she is 9. My wife Maria and I have lived in the Rogue Valley for over 20 years. Most of that time we have spent in the Talent community and just recently were forced to relocate to Central Point.
Just about a year ago we lost our home to the Almeda fire. The outcome was very unexpected and we left pretty much all of our belongings behind. Like most, we took a change of clothes and a couple of personal items expecting to return home the same evening or at worst, the next day. Everything was gone – we had to literally start over. The first few months we stayed wherever we could. We spent time with family members and even rented a small studio apartment while we waited for other housing to become available. Finally, housing became available at a complex in Central Point.
Our unit in Central Point is upstairs and with medical conditions that wife experiences that can be a challenge. On top of that, our youngest daughter has imperative autism and it makes it hard for her to focus and at times she can get carried away which has caused issues with the neighbors below due to the noise. Our apartment is affordable but money is still tight due to Miguel being the only wage earner. At the end of the day we are thankful to all be safe and to have a roof over our heads but we miss our community.
This new home with Habitat for Humanity will mean everything to us. Since money has always been a challenge for us, we never dreamed that we would be able to have an opportunity like this to be a homeowner. We will never again have to worry about having our own space or where we may have to go next. We will have a home and our kids can return to the schools with friends, where they were so comfortable and successful. We are so excited to begin this journey and so thankful.
The Garcia Family purchased their home in Oct of 2022.
Meet The Diaz Family - House #75
Hello, we are the Diaz Family and we wanted to share a bit about our story.
We moved to the Southern Oregon from California in 2006. At that time it was just me, my wife and our two young daughters. Starting out in a new place was a challenge. We literally started with nothing – eating dinner sitting on the floor in the dining room. From there, we worked hard and made it work. We furnished the apartment little by little and ended up call it home for seven years… and along the way we added two more daughters, Zoe and Brisa.
In 2013 we moved to Talent. We rented our little dream home on S. Pacific Hwy and it was perfect for us. Secluded, big fenced yard, space for everyone and amazing landlords. That home saw us through many tough times. Our daughter Ariadna was diagnosed with type one diabetes as well as depression and anxiety. We were in and out of the hospital, trips to Portland for her diabetes. Things were rough and there was only one income in the family.
As if it wasn’t hard enough, COVID lockdowns hit the hospitality industry like a brick wall and as a facilities maintenance worker, I was basically out of work from March until the end of July. Bills were behind, money was so tight and things were very stressful. Just as we started to see things coming back together… the fire came. Our house was gone – we lost everything. Everything.
From there, housing was a nightmare. First staying in a hotel room then being offered temporary housing in Applegate. It’s a long, hour drive from Applegate to Ashland every day and back. Not to mention with only one car, it’s a challenge. Knowing we needed a solution, we found out about Habitat for Humanity and their program for fire survivors. We applied and didn’t even consider the chance that we would be chosen… but we were blessed. We were chosen and we are so thankful that Habitat is going to be able to help my family and I with a home. It has always been our dream to have a house for our family and now thanks to God and Habitat, this will be a blessing and a dream come true.
The Diaz Family purchased their home on Oct 2022.
Meet The Rodriguez Family - House #76
My husband, myself and our three kids moved to Southern Oregon in 2009 to help a family member that was fighting a battle with cancer. Since our arrival we have worked hard but always lived a modest but happy lifestyle. Since moving here, our family grew and we are now a household of seven. I wouldn’t change it for the world but it has definitely caused us to adapt to living in tight space.
We always had a dream of becoming homeowners but it just seemed like things were always in the way. Finances too tight, unexpected emergencies or medical issues – there was always something else. The closest we got was owning our manufactured home in Phoenix. It was older and small but it was ours. My husband loves carpentry and worked hard to fix it up and turn it into something better than most people would have expected. Unfortunately our home and almost everything we own was lost to the Almeda fire last year. It was a horrific experience but I am very thankful that my family and my kids were able to evacuate safely.
After finding a temporary place to call home, we began discussions as a family of what to do next. Housing here is so hard and incredibly expensive but this is home and where our kids wanted to stay. The other option was Texas without family and a more affordable housing market. Some amazing friends referred us to apply for the Almeda housing program with Habitat. If it worked it would be a dream come true, if not we would move.
It worked! We were selected and I was shocked! I imagined that so many families applied and that getting chosen would be one in a million but it happened, we were chosen. This opportunity and new home will mean everything to us. Stability for my children and a reminder that everything happens for a reason and good can come after a storm. We need to remember that God is with us in every moment and life is full of obstacles but we could still see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Meet the William's Family House #57
Welcome to your new home Williams Family!
Elena Williams and Shawn Prewitt have three children which include nine year old Aniya, three year old Amari who has cerebral palsy and baby Julian. This home was dedicated on June 26th 2016. The William’s family home was part of our Apostle’s Build project.
Meet the Cortez Family - House #58
Welcome to your new home Cortez Family!
Isabel Cortez is a single mother of three children; Rodrigo age 4, Jocelyn age 6, and Deyanira age 9 and has worked full time for the past 4 years. This home was dedicated on December 17th 2016.
Our 2016 “Women Build” home in partnership with Lowe’s Home Improvement
Meet the Neill Family - House #59
Welcome to your new home Neill Family!
April Neill is a single mother of Nicholas a mentally challenged 20 year old who is working at a local grocery store. April works as a dietary aide for a local retirement home. This home was dedicated on December 17th 2016 and was our annual Women's Build home for 2016.
Meet the Brownlow Family - House #61
Welcome to your new home Brownlow Family!
Tim and Bianca Brownlow are the parents of three young children; Matthew, Isabella, and Madilyn, the baby. The Brownlow family was renting a small, two-bedroom home in Rogue River and were dealing with all of it's many flaws. Their home was dedicated on Novemeber 19, 2018 and was the Apostle Build project for Rogue River.
Meet the Flanagan Family - House #66
Welcome to your new home Flanagan Family!
Chris and Alicia Flanagan are the parents of four children; Logan age 11, Liam and Aiden (twin boys) age 7 and their daughter, Grace, age 4. The Flanagan family was growing and on their way to success when the Recession swept the rug out from under the carpentry business where Chris was employed. After recovering from the Recession, the rental crisis has prevented them from being able to afford to provide their family with the safe and stable home they had always dreamed of, especially for the twins that are both diagnosed with autism and ADHD. They are excited to leave behind their unsafe, overcrowded apartment and begin the process of building their "forever home".
This home was dedicated on May 11th, 2019.
Meet the Nielson Family - House #60
Welcome to your new home Nielson Family!
Melissa Nielson is the single mother of two children; Levi and Zoey. As a single mother, Melissa tried desperately to keep her place but with a huge rent increase and the loss of one income, she soon realized it was impossible. She was left with no choice but to move her family in with her parents in Rogue River. Their home was dedicated on Novemeber 19, 2018 and was the Apostle Build project for Rogue River.
Meet Bill Hahey - House #63
Welcome to your new home Bill!
William Hahey has one grown daughter and has been a proud resident of the Rogue Valley for over 30 years. Bill was born prematurely and this trauma at birth caused him to be totally blind. He grew up attending many schools and programs specifically geared towards children with blindness. Those schools taught him how to live independently and helped to develop his love of music. Bill is a very accomplished musician and has played and toured with many local bands. He currently lives in an older motorhome at a mobile home park in Ashland. His space rent is quite expensive and many of his appliances only operate on propane. This is a large problem for Bill because his vision impairment makes it impossible to carry heavy propane tanks to a refill location, miles away. He is excited for the opportunity to own a stable, long-term home and that he will not have to move ever again.
Bill's home was dedicated to him on March 10th, 2018.
Our 2017 “Women Build” home in partnership with Lowe’s Home Improvement
Meet Jude Forler - House #62
Welcome to your new home Jude!
Jude Forler has one adult daughter and one grandson. She settled back into the Rogue Valley for the last time in 2001 and is here to stay. While living in Hawaii, the events of Sept 11th helped her realize the larger role she wanted to play in the lives of her Oregon-based family and friends. She settled into an affordable manufactured home in Medford and found full-time work. After the economic downturn and a layoff, Jude quickly found herself in a hopeless situation. Her park rent DOUBLED, her aging trailer began to "crumble around her" and with a very limited income and no other resources, no attainable solutions were on the horizon. The situation became even more dire when Jude received word of a possible eviction because her home was not "up to park standards". At the point of no other solutions, Jude found Habitat. She applied and was selected in November of 2016. She is excited to "age gracefully" in a home that is warm, safe and affordable.
Jude's home was dedicated to her on March 10th, 2018.
Meet The Torres Family - House #64
Welcome to your new home Torres Family!
Carlos and Sandra Torres have three children; Joseph age 15, Melida age 13, and Briana age 6. Originally from El Salvador, Carlos and Sandra moved their family from California to Oregon in 2012. During their time in California both Sandra and Carlos were victims of theft and violence that resulted in identity theft. The identity theft left their credit destroyed, making renting difficult at best, and purchasing a house, unthinkable. After their move to Oregon they were able to rent a small apartment for a year, but black mold sent them looking for better living conditions. In 2013 they found a much older mobile home to purchase and were grateful for the stability. The Torres family soon realized that their new home had some very serious issues. It was very poorly insulated causing extremely high electric bills, some serious electrical and wiring issues began to occur and their space rent has increased drastically since their move. Out of ideas, and with credit still in recovery from identity theft, Carlos talked to a friend who mentioned Habitat for Humanity and their mission. With a spark of hope, the Torres family applied to be considered as a recipient family and attended the orientation. To their great surprise and with hearts overfilled with gratitude to God, to Habitat for Humanity and the incredible people who work to make this program possible. They are thrilled to receive a home to fit the needs of their family and be able to offer their children a secure and comfortable refuge they will call “home.”
This home was dedicated on August 25, 2018
Meet The Ibarra-Reid Family - House #65
Welcome to your new home Ibarra Reid Family! Raymond Ibarra and Kellie Reid are the parents of their one year old daughter, Kyliah. This small family was just getting settled into a rented trailer in Eagle Point when new park ownership provided notices to vacate to any owner who could not provide proof of ownership. Sadly, the owner of their trailer was one of the people who could not provide proof of ownership and the family was forced to move. With the challenge of a tight rental market and time not on their side the family has been staying in an old garage that they transformed into a room at Kellie’s grandparents’ home. Their private room/garage is detached from the main house with less than appropriate living standards. In order to have access to any amenities or running water they must travel from their converted room outside to the main home. In the main home they share the kitchen and the single bathroom with the entire household, ten individuals in total.
They first heard about the Habitat for Humanity housing program via the digital sign out front of the Medford Restore. At first, they were hesitant and doubtful, being that they work so excessively. They figured what would be the harm in checking out the requirements and what this partnership is all about. Astounded, they were one of the families chosen. They said “This opportunity means the world to us! Growing up, both of us were constantly moving around. The prospect of our daughter having a safe and stable environment to set out in makes all our dreams come true.”
This home was dedicated on April 6th 2019.
Meet The Holland Family - House #70
Welcome to your new home Holland Family!
We remember being hopeful last October when our friend and neighbor brought us information on how to apply to become Habitat homeowners. We didn’t want to get our hopes up but knew that being accepted was definitely a possibility. We are soon to be a family of five and besides longing to attain the dream of home ownership, we are bursting at the seams in our small home! My husband and I have two beautiful little girls: Izzy 8, Hannah 3, and we are expecting our son, Isaic, in June.
My husband works full time and to save on the very expensive cost of childcare, I stay at home with our children. With only one income we don’t qualify for the average mortgage loan and with the current rental market, moving to a larger home and doubling our rent wasn’t an option. So we stayed put in the little two-bedroom duplex that we rent and trusted in the Lord to someday provide a way for us to have a larger home of our own. We just had no idea that God’s plan would include Habitat for Humanity and that it could happen this soon! We really believe that Habitat is a bridge to many, many blessings, one of them being a comfortable home for our children.
Habitat for Humanity and all those who work together to serve their community are not only helping my husband and I with the opportunity to purchase an affordable “forever” home but also helping the next generation to have a safe and stable place to grow up in. Thank you to all the hands, staff and volunteers, that have helped make our dream and the dreams of others a reality. You helped make a way for us when it seemed that there was no way. We are so grateful and excited.
Their home was dedicated on October 16, 2019
Meet The Paxton Family - House #68
Welcome to your new home Paxton Family! I am a 37 year old single mother of two, my daughter Maryn, age 11 and my son Van, age 7. I have worked for Harry and David for 5 years, trying to support my children the best I can and looking for affordable housing. In July 2013 we needed to flee an abusive situation and moved into my parents’ house hoping the living situation would be temporary. They have a small 1050sf home with four adults and two children all sharing the space, it’s crowded. My children have been sleeping in the living room; Maryn sleeps on the couch and Van on the floor. They call it their “bedroom” and have never complained about their sleeping arrangements. It breaks my heart that I can’t provide them with adequate living quarters; I believe they are exceptional kids and are always in good spirit, considering what we have all been through.
What this home will mean to us is an abundance of positives; I don’t even know where to begin! For all of us it is the gratification of being in our own home, a goal we have been hoping and praying for, for the past 5 years. We will have a sense of well-being and pride, have our own rooms and our own space. Maryn and Van can have friends stay the night! I will be a homeowner; that in itself is a rewarding milestone to reach in life and my children can finish out their childhood in the same home. We will share responsibilities, duties and pride in maintaining our own home. Thank you Habitat for Humanity for giving us this opportunity, I am deeply moved and honored more than words can express. I am whole heartedly indebted and ready and willing to help future families reach their dreams.
This home was dedicated on June 24, 2020!
Meet The Strahan Family - House #69
Welcome to your new home Strahan Family! After years of struggling financially, I moved from California to Oregon to begin a new life. It was in Oregon that I met my wife and we began our life together. In 2004 I rented a two bedroom mobile home in West Medford. It needed a lot of repairs to make livable but I thought I could do much of the repairs myself and I was also thinking that it would be better than to continue living in are motorhome. I thought this would be temporary living, just for now. In 2005 we had our son and then in 2006 along came my daughter and here we are, still living in this temporary situation. Now a single dad of two, on disability due to a serious truck accident on the job a few years ago, we have been struggling financially to find better living conditions for me and my children. Before I was injured I was able to perform some of the maintenance needed to make our home better but in the end it is still a 1970’s single-wide. Even though it is the only place we have to call home, this structure is plagued with things like bad plumbing, inefficient heating, bad floors throughout the house and around toilet. It has no insulation and is very inefficient. Utilities bills run over $300 a month in the winter and we are still constantly cold. Now its 2018 we have managed to survive in this place for 14 years and thinking there isn't much hope in changing our situation. I was told by a friend about Habitat for Humanity that we should sign up, so I thought “OK, what do I have to lose?” and I applied. After a couple months and following the application process, the Habitat people showed up at my door welcoming us into their family. WOW! We were amazed that we were accepted and are still so overwhelmed. We know it will take a lot of work but now our family has hope for the future! Now my daughter says “Yahoo! I get my own room”. Thank you Habitat for the awesome new life ahead that you’re giving us. We are so grateful!
This home was dedicated on June 24, 2020.
Meet the Alfrey Family - House #71
Welcome to your new home Alfrey Family! Aisa Alfrey is the mother of two young children; Annabelle age 8 and Jackson age 3. Aisa, her boyfriend and their children were living in Grants Pass until it was discovered that the individual they were living with was not safe for her children to be around. Needing to move quickly, moving in with her mother was the only available option but there was only room for Aisa and the children. Aisa and the kids share one small bedroom at her mother's home in Talent while the children's father is at his mother's home in Gold Hill. This Habitat home will be the blessing that allows Aisa to reunite her family and bring everyone together under the same roof. She is excited to provide her family a safe and stable place to always call home.
This home was dedicated on June 30, 2020!
Meet the Gravatt Family - House #72
Welcome to your new home Gravatt Family! Our family has always lived by our family bible verse. Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Our struggles have been many and our blessings as well. We have walked by faith into an unknown future knowing that the Lord will guide every step of our journey. Through the good, being married for 10 years, our beautiful children, Malachi (7), Makenna (6), Mason (3) and Mckinley (1) and the blessing of a good job for my husband Joe. We have also gone through the bad, losing jobs, a diagnosis of type 1 diabetes when our first son was only 6 months old that put Joe in the ICU for 6 days and the loss of children. There are days that seemed never-ending and tough and days that our lives were forever changed.
We have always tried to look at the brighter side of things and when we moved into our current house it was perfect for my husband, myself and a baby on the way. A two bedroom house for three. 8 years later we are now a family of 6 in a two bedroom and things have gotten tight. We do the best we can, but the housing market is tough. We have not been able to find anything in our budget. It has always been we can have a bigger house, but we wouldn’t be able to have anything else like food, electricity, clothes, diapers, a car, and necessities. When we heard of Habitat for Humanity we were not sure if we would qualify, but we took a leap of faith to see if this was the next step in our journey. A new home partnered with Habitat would mean everything to us. To be able to have a place we can call ours, a place to have our very first dining room table (we have never had the space for one), a place our kids can invite friends over to and a place our boys could have their own space and our girls could have their own space, too. A place we can call a forever home.
This home was dedicated on June 30, 2020.
Meet The Hinojosa Family - House #73
Welcome to your new home Hinojosa Family!
I’m a momma of three teens, two of which still live at home. Lynnea is 15 and Jacob, my youngest son, is 14. We moved to the Rogue Valley four years ago from Southern California with high hopes to rebuild our family but shortly after arriving things took a turn for the worse. The kid’s father and I divorced and had both been battling drug addiction. It was devastating for us. Our hopes of a new start seemed to go right out the window.
To get back on track my children and I lived in transitional housing for two years while I worked hard to complete addiction treatment. After recovery and finding sobriety we now rent a small two-bedroom apartment. Our rent is very expensive at $895 a month and we do not receive any rental assistance. I work as much as possible to make ends barely meet but on one income it is difficult to stay afloat. We are grateful to have a roof over our heads but it is pretty tight with myself and two teens.
It was suggested that I apply for housing through Habitat for Humanity. I honestly thought this opportunity was far out of my reach… but there may be a glimpse of hope so I did it! What a dream come true to be chosen! Miracles do happen! This means the world to my kids and I and we are proud to partner with Habitat and spread the good news of what they do for so many here and around the world.
This home was dedicated on September 23, 2021.